How To Determine How Much Mulch Is Needed

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by 1MajorTom, May 29, 2004.

  1. upidstay

    upidstay LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Messages: 1,584

    Why not just use the mulch calculator that the creators of this site so nicely provided? Top of the page.
  2. Derek9D

    Derek9D LawnSite Member
    Messages: 35

    for a circle i would guess it would be
    3.14 X Radius squared X .25/27= Cubic Yards

    so a 10 foot diameter circle would have a radius of 5 feet from center to edge so

    3.14 X 5' X 5'=78.5 sq ft

    78.5 X .25= 19.625 cubic ft

    19.625/ 27= 0.7268 cubic yards

    so 3/4 of a yard or just get a yard...or you could just eyeball it:dizzy:

    I think thats all right
  3. lsylvain

    lsylvain LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 779

    I usually just guestimate the square feet to get in the ball park and tell the customer I estimate that it will take "X" truck loads and depending on what truck I will be using give them the price per truck load. Plus if you get really specific a yard is a yard, but again does your mulch supplier actually measure out the amout of mulch or do they just say that their scoop is a yard or 2/3 a yard or whatever. (I use truck loads when dealing with clients because they can picture a truck load, but most people can't picture a yard.) I found this method to work much better, you can sit down and figure up exactly how much you need, but can you actually put exactly 3 inches in every mulch bed, no. so then if you end up a little thick and run short you eaither have to spread it thin towards the end or go get more much at your expense. As you do the job you will see how much you are using and be able to make ajustments to how much you are going to use. And of course you pass this information alone to the customer to keep them informed on the bigger jobs. I never had a complaint from anyone. If I used less they were happy because they save a little money and if I used more they were happy because they got what they paid for.
  4. michaelmeyers31

    michaelmeyers31 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    How about pickup truck loads instead of bags?
  5. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,654

    Regardless of whether you calculate or guess on amounts, how accurately you spread your mulch will make a difference. You can goof up on spreading mulch either way, but you’re more likely to goof up on getting too much or too little if you just guess on what you need… that is unless if you don’t calculate things correctly.

    Another reason why you may want to learn these calculations is if you get into landscape construction, rather than just maintenance. Some states require that you to take an exam and to be licensed to do this work, and if your state has an exam like the one here, there could be a number of questions on the test where you have to figure out how much material is needed. They give you a landscape plan and you have to go from there. Guessing won’t work.
  6. Greenguy1

    Greenguy1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 103

    try this easy method.... length X width divided by 81 equals cubic yards at 4" deep need only 2"? it would be half that how hard is that? 30'X60'=1800 div. by 81=22.2 yards @4" depth 2" would be 11.1 yards 3" would be18.5yards it never fails and it can be done in your head cause it doesn't have to be exact just round up or down when it comes to mulch it never has to be exact because of compaction differences.
  7. Wayne's Lawn Service

    Wayne's Lawn Service LawnSite Member
    Messages: 184

    These are all great. However, be sure to calculate an estimated amount of square footage that is taken up by plant material. Based on square footage alone may have you over estimating your mulch which will over estimate your time to spread and thus raise your price higher than it needs to be.

    I am not saying that you don't want to get as much as possible out of the job, get what the market will bear. I am only suggesting to keep in mind that even though you may have 2,000 square feet of beds, maybe only 1200 square feet require mulch due to plant material taken up the rest of the area.
  8. johnnywill08

    johnnywill08 LawnSite Senior Member
    from MA z6
    Messages: 383

    how the hell do you guys measure irregular shaped areas? or do you just eyeball it and use your experience??? i'm 5yrs in the biz and still over/under shoot all the time.
  9. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,654

    For estimating an irregular shape, you'll have to average the shape into something that you can calculate or look up, such as the example below. If your irregular shape has somewhat of a square or rectangle shape, try to visualize where the "average" is for the four sides. An irregular circle shape can be averaged into a regular circle as well. It ain't perfect, but better than nothing.

    A more precise but longer method would be to take numerous X and Y measurements across the irregular area to get your average sides. Make sense?

  10. Wayne's Lawn Service

    Wayne's Lawn Service LawnSite Member
    Messages: 184

    Irregular shapes are not as hard as you think. However, depending on the shape, the math is a bit different.

    Depending on the size of the area, one way is to take a few measurements going longways and then take the average of that distance as the length. Repeat the same process for the width. Then multiply the average length by the average width to get square feet.

    Circles are completed by 3.14 X Radius squared. Radius is equal to 1/2 the distance across the circle. Example: 3.14 X 20 feet X 20 = 1256 square feet.

    Triangle = 1/2 base times the height. If the total distance across the base of the triangle is 50 feet (base) by 100 feet tall (height), you would multiply 25 X 100 = 2500 square feet.

    Hope this helps.

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